Does the indoor smoking ban apply to vaping?
Since 2007 smoking has been banned in all enclosed work and public places throughout the UK. There is sometimes confusion over whether or not this ban also applies to vaping. There is no national legislation covering the use of e-cigarettes indoors in the UK, instead it is up to individual organisations whether they choose to allow or ban vaping on their premises.
Smoking in enclosed public and work spaces was banned in 2007 to protect employees and non-smokers from the effects of secondhand smoke. The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke negatively affect air quality and the health of smokers and the people around them. Before the smoking ban, an estimated 617 premature deaths per year were caused by secondhand smoke in the workplace. Now smoking in an enclosed public place is punishable by fines.
Although vaping produces large clouds of vapour, which can look like cigarette smoke, ASH reports that there is currently no evidence of ‘secondhand vaping’ causing negative health effects. Public Health England has said that using an e-cigarette “releases negligible levels of nicotine into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.” Because e-cigarettes do not decrease air quality in the same way cigarettes do, they are not covered by the 2007 smoking ban and individual organisations can make their own policies on their use in enclosed public spaces.
When deciding on a policy for indoor e-cigarette use, ASH encourages organisations to not hinder individuals who vape as an alternative to smoking. However, they also acknowledge that in some busy workplaces, particularly clubs and bars, it’s difficult to tell the difference between e-cigarettes and cigarettes. Therefore in the interest of protecting staff, these venues may choose to ban e-cigarettes. Some organisations have also banned the use of e-cigarettes due to concerns that they could upset other patrons. Although evidence suggests that there is a very low level of risk to bystanders from e-cigarette vapour, individuals with asthma or other breathing issues can find it distressing. If you are considering using your vaping device in an enclosed public place, it is best to ask what the organisation’s policy is and abide by their rules.
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